Palisade fights hard in loss to Steamboat

The Palisade High School boys basketball team is learning the valuable lessons that close losses tend to bring.

Heading into Saturday night’s game against Steamboat Springs, the Bulldogs (5-7, 2-2 Western Slope League) had already suffered three early-season losses by six or less points.

Against the Sailors, Palisade continued to do the things that kept the close games going against them, losing 56-51 at Grand Junction High School.

“We are playing hard, but are having a few possessions here and there that we aren’t taking care of,” Palisade coach Steve Phillips said. “We have to take care of every possession if we want to beat quality teams.”

The game was played at Grand Junction because the Palisade Invitational wrestling tournament was being held in Palisade. Playing on its adopted home floor, the Bulldogs began the game by building a 9-8 lead in the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, a Caleb Hall 3-pointer pushed the Bulldogs’ lead to 14-8. After the basket, the Sailors responded by going on a 9-0 run en route to a 23-18 halftime lead.

“There was a three to four minute stretch in the second quarter where we were running mystery stuff,” Phillips said. “It costs us against teams like that, until we start taking care of every possession, we aren’t going to win those close games.” That’s not to say the Bulldogs didn’t give all they had.

Steamboat maintained a small lead throughout the third quarter. In the fourth, Palisade had worked the deficit down to 39-36. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Hall and Hayden gave the Bulldogs their first lead since the first quarter at 42-39.

“We made a nice comeback to get the lead,” Phillips said. “The kids will never quit.”

Despite the Bulldogs’ momentum swaying buckets, Steamboat was too determined, retaking the lead a few moments later behind the guard play of Isiah Forsyth and Charles Wood. The two players made big shots down the stretch and combined to score 11 points in the quarter, including going 7 for 7 from the free-throw line.

Wood led the way for the Sailors with 16 points.

“It was a tough loss,” Hayden said. “It was a game where every possession counted and maybe we had too many bad possessions.” Hayden did his best to go basket-for-basket in the game’s final minutes, scoring 14 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter.

“I proud of them,” Phillips said. “I keep forgetting we are pretty young, and have come a long way.”

Palisade plays Friday at Eagle Valley.


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